WATERTOWN – A group of Watertown High School students enrolled in Advanced Radio/TV Capstone, Radio Broadcasting, and News Broadcasting courses this semester are leading the charge on piloting the operation of a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week online streaming radio station thanks to a new partnership with the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association.
The program, known as the High School Radio Project, empowers students with the opportunity to experiment with radio as a potential career. WHS is one of just two high schools in the country currently running the pilot program.
With instruction from the HSRP curriculum and knowledge already being taught in WHS media teacher Todd Robbins’ courses, the students are developing the skills necessary to produce, write, and record a variety of programming, including alternative and Top-40 music, daily newscasts, original student produced public service announcements, and weekend talk shows.
The High School Radio Project pilot will continue in the Fall of 2023. Students interested in participating can see their guidance councilor to elect Radio Broadcasting.
You can listen to the High School Radio Project – Massachusetts on HighSchoolRadioProject.org, Live365, or ask Amazon Alexa to play “High School Radio Project Massachusetts”
The High School radio project also provided the following press release:
(Omaha, NE) (Boston, MA) – The Nebraska Broadcasters Association (NBA) and the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association (MBA) announce the launch of The High School Radio Project (HSRP).
The HSRP brings real-world radio skills to high school media students in each state, allowing students to curate and schedule music, record radio breaks, produce news and sports stories, interviews, and PSAs, all aired on a streaming radio station heard around the world, 24-hours a day on HighSchoolRadioProject.org, Live365, and Amazon Alexa.
Through partnerships with industry vendors like MusicMaster, PlayoutONE, AllAccess, and Benztown Branding, HSRP students can closely mimic an actual radio station, developing critical communication skills and giving a head start to those who wish to further their radio journey by bolstering college applications and adding valuable skills to their work resumé.
“The NBA board of directors challenged me to seek new ways to get more high school students interested in radio. In thinking about possible options, I recalled a situation from an NBA-sponsored high school media camp where one student whined about going on the campus radio station because radio is “lame” and “no one cares about it.” Camp advisors held their ground, the students went on the air and had so much fun – including the whiner student – that they stayed on into the night and added more on-air time to the camp schedule,” said NBA President/Executive Director Jim Timm.
“Realizing that few students can get a station tour let alone go on the air if they do, my mind moved toward bringing the radio station to their classroom. Once I had the HSRP concept sketched out, I wanted a critical review from someone who could understand the objective and provide needed feedback. Having worked with Jordan Walton of the MBA on other projects, I asked him to hear me out and tell me whether the concept had potential. Jordan fell in love with it, added tremendous technical and practical suggestions, and we took it to our respective boards for approval. Jordan has been an invaluable partner in building out the HSRP,” added Timm.
The first school in Nebraska to get the reins of the HSRP Nebraska station was Millard West High School, led by teacher Mark Hilburn. “The High School Radio Project has been such a fun, hands-on learning experience for both my students and myself. They were quick to learn the ins and outs of the equipment, and have really taken ownership of the process,” said Hilburn. “They enjoy scheduling music, recording news segments and PSAs and voice tracking. We’ve also had really positive feedback from our school, with many teachers playing our Millard West-branded station “The Uproar” in their classes during independent and group work time. My students have even thought about taking this to the next level with live segments, sports and more.”
In Massachusetts, award-winning broadcaster and Watertown High School media teacher Todd Robbins saw a unique opportunity for his radio students to get valuable experience. “School-based student media is the best laboratory for students to experiment with career-ready skills from researching, to writing, to voicing, to editing content for consumption by an audience, and more. The repetitions students gain through the HSRP’s learn-by-doing hands-on model are invaluable. Student broadcasters need a place to learn and experience successes and challenges the same way a student driver does. The HSRP creates the perfect balance of opportunity to thrive or struggle in a safe environment,” said Robbins.
MBA Executive Director Jordan Walton added, “listening to the Watertown students grow with the HSRP over the last few months has been incredibly rewarding. The students have honed their skills through our thorough website training curriculum, instruction from Todd, and repetition on the air. You can hear them become more comfortable with the cadence of radio, the material they’re presenting, telling a concise story, and finding their own unique ‘schtick.’ It’s been a home run for the MBA.”
The High School Radio Project was quickly supported by both the NBA and MBA boards of directors in late 2021 and early 2022, respectively. The associations carefully crafted the two stations which can broadcast an alternative, country, or Top 40 format, before handing the stations over to the high school students tasked with making the station their own.
Long-term the goal is to have similar HSRP stations run by other state broadcasters associations, creating a streaming network of HSRP stations and generating interest in those pursuing radio as a college major and, ultimately, a career.
Starting this fall, the HSRP will add a third stream with students from Michigan joining in the radio fun. Michigan Association of Broadcasters President Sam Klemet added, “The Michigan Association of Broadcasters wants to give as many young people as possible the opportunity to have their voices heard and radio is an incredibly powerful medium to make that happen. The High School Radio Project expands access to students interested in learning about the industry, encourages collaboration and creativity, and is a great first step for young people considering a career in broadcasting whether it’s on-air or behind the scenes. The MAB is proud to make this available to students in our state.”
Learn more about The High School Radio Project at highschoolradioproject.org.
About the Nebraska Broadcasters Association
The Nebraska Broadcasters Association was formed in 1934 and is the second oldest (Georgia) state broadcasters association in America. The Association exists to advance the best interests of free, over the air, FCC-licensed AM, FM and Television stations licensed in the state of Nebraska. Please visit www.ne-ba.org for more information.
About the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association
The Massachusetts Broadcasters Association (MBA) is the only voluntary, statewide trade organization serving the Bay State’s over-the-air television and radio stations. The Association’s key responsibilities include assisting its members with general and broadcast-specific business challenges and assisting in the networking of fellow broadcasters. Please visit www.massbroadcasters.org for more information.
Jim Timm Jordan Walton
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